Toppers Show Some Offense

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – After being dominated by the defense on Thursday, the West Liberty University offense flashed a little big-play ability during Friday’s full-pad practice at Russek Field.

Most of Friday’s single session was devoted to an extended 7-on-7 period in a mock game format with down and distance markers. Each quarterback was given two chances to lead a drive the length of the field. The quarterback would stay out there until the offense scored, turned the ball over on downs or lost possession with a fumble or interception.

Returning starter L.D. Crow got first shot but couldn’t get the offense into the end zone, turning the ball over on downs.

Sophomore Ben Rogers was next. He got off to a good start with three straight first-down completions to slot receiver Dominic Cooper, setting up a first-and-goal inside the 10. The defense came up big again, however, with junior DB Rod White intercepting a pass in the end zone.

Junior Chris Kiedaisch then took the helm and wasted little time putting the first score of the day on the board. On the second snap of the series, Kiedaisch dropped back and hit returning WR Darrell Stanley in stride on a post route that covered 57 yards to paydirt.

Junior Tyler Tucci followed, picking up one first down before firing a 44-yard TD strike to speedy senior WR Hakeem Cartwright on Tucci’s third snap.

Transfer QB Bo Whitney went 3-and-out but newcomer QB Dylan Lagarde needed just two snaps to put the offense in the end zone again. The true freshman found fellow freshman WR Deven Turner loose on the right sideline and the diminutive speedster took it to the house for a 49-yard score.

The defense was able to keep the offense out of the end zone on the second rotation but there were a couple of close calls. Crow and Rogers each drove the offense down the field only to be turned away on end zone interceptions by sophomore DB Omar Crawford and sophomore LB Mike Jefferson. Kiedaisch and Tucci went 3-and-out to end the period. Newcomer DBs Bobby Spence and Jovontae Johnson had nice plays for the defense as did junior LB T.J. Lesniewski and sophomore DB Tanner Stocker.

A team period followed with the offensive and defensive lines joining the party. Whitney got first shot under center and just missed All-WVIAC WR Brandon Schroeder on a deep post as Johnson flashed some impressive closing speed to bat the ball away at the last minute. The defense generally had the upper hand during team period as the only touchdown was a 55-yarder from Kiedaisch to Cartwright.

RBs Kenjay Trueblood and Scotty Victorio did have some success on the ground from time to time and TE Jesse Rose made some nice catches in traffic. Other receivers making contributions included Schroeder, James Wright, Brandon Williams and Tristen Devers. Defensive standouts during the period included Jefferson, Lesniewski, LB Kyle Agustin, LB Dylan Dominico, DT Leonidas Redding, DT Nate Maleski and DB Marcus Schumacher.

Practice wrapped up with a special teams period on PATs and field goals. The Hilltoppers return to Russek Field for another double session on Saturday.

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